Germany: Bundesliga
1 - 1
(0 - 0)
L. Melo (77), L. Melo (89)
M. Veljkovic (62), J. Stage (73)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Frankfurt and Bremen trade goals, and red cards, in Friday night stalemate

The 2023/24 German Bundesliga's match-day 28 curtain-raiser proved an odd affair in which SV Werder Bremen and Eintracht Frankfurt shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw that featured two sending offs for exceptionally dirty fouls. 

Bremen's Jens Stage and Eintracht's Lucas Silva "Tuta" Melo both had to vacate the Deutsche Bank Park pitch following challenges deemed worthy of straight reds. 
After drawing their Hin-runde fixture 2-2, Eintracht Frankfurt and SV Werder Bremen have once again split the difference in their second meeting of the 2023/24 Bundesliga campaign. Dino Toppmöller's SGE and the visiting Hanseaten traded goals (and red cards) in a wild second half Friday evening at Deutsche Bank Park. Bremen were able to break a four-match losing streak with the result. The point gained does ensure that Eintracht will finish the weekend in the second Europa League playoff spot, but UEL challengers Augsburg and Freiburg will be hoping to make up ground with wins of their own.

Toppmöller made three changes to the XI that drew Union Berlin 0-0 last Saturday. Striker Hugo Ekitiké and midfield linchpin Ellyes Skhiri unfortunately both had to pass with injury. Left back Niels Nkounkou was relegated to the bench in favor of Philipp Max. Algerian attacker Fares Chaibi filled in for Ekitiké. Skhiri's absence led to a Bundesliga debut for 20-year-old defender Nnamdi Collins. Tutu moved into midfield whilst Collins worked as a right back. Omar Marmoush back up from his third axis deployment to serve as a top axis striker.

SV trainer Ole Werner made four changes to the team that lost to Wolfsburg last week. Mitchell Weiser, Synne Lynnen, and Jens Stage were able to return to the starting lineup after serving suspensions. Olivier Deman, Skelly Alvero, and soon-to-depart striker Nick Woltemade were dispatched to the bench. Amid all the returns from suspension, the Hanseaten had one player serving a fresh ban. Amos Pieper returned to the Werder XI to take the place of Anthony Jung after his red card in the previous loss.

Respective keepers Kevin Trapp and Michael Zetterer both had to be on their toes in order to keep the ball out of the back of the net during an up-tempo first-half. Zetterer did well to parry Marmoush in the 18th. Seven minutes later, Trapp made an exceptionally strong save on Stage with his foot. Zetterer once again had to intervene against Marmoush on what was by far the best chance of the game in the 42nd. Thanks in large part to the two top-notch saves from the SV net-minder, the first half concluded without a goal being scored.

Marmoush once again came close to scoring shortly after the restart. Eintracht continued to threaten and it came as something of a surprise that the guests were the ones to break the deadlock very much against the run-of-play. The north Germans netted the 1-0 off a set-piece in the 62nd. Trapp managed to stop a Stage effort off a Marvin Ducksch free-kick, but was unable to stop Milos Veljkovic from polishing off the rebound. The Hessen hosts had great difficulty mustering up a response, only equalizing after Stage saw a straight red in the 74th.

The Danish attacker slid into SGE sub Jean-Matteo Bahoya not long after the French teenager had been introduced. Match official Robert Hartmann - compelled to take another look at the scene by the Kölner Keller - quickly opted to send Stage off. Frankfurt took immediate advantage of their numerical superiority, equalizing less than three minutes later. Tuta - marked poorly by Bremen goal-scorer Veljkovic - headed home Willian Pacho's cross to tie matters up at 1-1 in the 77th.

Toppmöller's side were certainly invigorated by the late development and pressed hard for a winner late. Ansgar Knauff nearly scored the 2-1 in the 78th. An uninterrupted spell of Frankfurt pressure regrettably came to an end when goal-scorer Tuta himself was given a straight red for a direct late tackle on Felix Agu's heel in the 88th. Match official Hartmann, again compelled to review the scene by the VAR team, rescinded his initial yellow and sent the Brazilian defender off for what replays confirmed was a very dirty stomp.

The hosts were still gifted the chance to capture all three points via nine full minutes of injury time, yet weren't able to make much out of some free-kicks and corners during the added period. Toppmöller's RheinMain Adler ended up settling for their 12th draw of the current season. UEL challengers Freiburg and Augsburg remain six points behind sixth-placed Eintracht heading into their own respective matches against Leipzig and Hoffenheim. Both clubs can move within three points of the second UEL spot.

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